Recently, I watched a presentation on mental health. The moderators talked about veterans and trauma. They shared what trauma is and how we experience it. The panel also talked about how veterans’ families endure along with the family members who are experiencing trauma. They explained that the mind can be injured and when this happens, the whole body suffers. We can experience an array of ailments as a result of trauma. As the panelists continued to outline what can cause trauma, I started to think about my life and the impact of living through this pandemic. If you are like me, we believe that we are strong. Maybe because we are and have been able to ‘take it’ despite obstacles. But now, people like us need to take a step back and recognize that we are not rocks, we are people and we can only ‘take’ so much.
Trauma is defined as is any type of distressing event or experience that can have an impact on a person’s ability to cope and function. Trauma can result in emotional, physical, and psychological harm. Verywellmind.com
As I listened to the stories and experiences of the speakers in this webinar, I started to search myself. Have I failed to acknowledge and bring closure to experiences within my life which caused distress. My mind went back to when I was forced to leave my neighborhood elementary school because of mandatory integration. I remember with such clarity how alone and abandoned, I felt. No one asked us kids what we wanted. We wouldn’t have understood the reasoning anyway. I remember the television cameras waiting as we arrived at the school and thinking, this is what the animals must feel like in the zoo. I experienced trauma. Part of the healing came when I rejoined my friends in high school but I have never fully digested this experience. I wonder how unnoticed, the pain has manifested throughout my life.
Have you taken an opportunity to discuss our feelings with anyone?
Last year around this time, a virus began to sweep through the world and was on its way to the Unites States. I remember how I believed we were safe, I was safe. I listened to the news reports and there seemed to be little reason for concern. Maybe the mixed messages gave me an opportunity to stay in denial longer. I paid little attention really until the day I was directed to send my employees home. The country was shutting down and I quickly learned what the definition was of a nonessential worker. I naively told my employees to take enough work home for about 2 weeks. They have been working remotely for over a year. We have experienced trauma.
As a nation, we are approaching 600,000 people who have passed away from the COVID19 virus. I know numerous families who have lost love one’s. Some have lost multiple family members. I do not fully understand the toll this pandemic has taken on our children or our society but I can see its impact on me. My blood pressure is high. My concentration is challenged and I am feeling that I need to pay more attention to living a full life. Why was society denied the truth about this virus? Why were we told, if we shut the country down for a few weeks that we would ‘get back to normal.’ This was not true. This has been a catastrophe. We will never get back to normal. We are not the same. There is a ‘new normal’ emerging that includes plexiglass, face masks, and social distancing.
They explained that the mind can be injured and when this happens, the whole body suffers.
We need to talk about this. If we fail to embrace the need to share our feelings of loss and grief then this pandemic will be in control of our future causing even more trauma. So, let me be the first to admit that I did not see this coming. I am angry that our political leaders put politics above public safety. Because of the lack of honesty, the remedy came in the vaccine after hundreds of thousands of people died. Can we ever trust the political system again? I can’t answer this but we must trust the science. This I know for sure. .
We need one another which is the irony. Despite believing in our individual uniqueness, I also embrace what makes us special is based on the community. At this intersection we can become callus because hurting people hurt people. But we also have a choice to be filled with love and compassion. We still have more to endure but I will offer a solution; relationship. We share this journey. Let’s heal together. I feel better knowing compassion is an option on the table. How about you?